Indian River School District referendum defeated

February 6, 2019

Indian River School District voters rejected a referendum Feb. 5 to build a new high school, add classrooms to other schools and increase operating expenses.

Superintendent Mark Steele said he was disappointed because the district is running out of space. He said the district is expected to grow by 1,700 students over the next six years.

“In the coming weeks, our administration and board of education will re-evaluate our needs and formulate strategies to accommodate this rapid rate of growth. Many options will be considered, including hosting another referendum in 2019,” he said in a statement.

The referendum was divided into two parts – one for capital improvements and the other for operating expenses. A new $56 million Sussex Central High School was proposed on district property north of Millsboro. Eight classrooms at Indian River High School would have cost $5.7 million and four classrooms at Selbyville Middle was $1.3 million. The existing Sussex Central High School would have been converted into a middle school with Millsboro Middle students relocated there. Millsboro Middle would have been converted into an elementary school.

A current expense tax increase would have raised about $1.5 million for more teachers, supplies and transportation for the schools.

Voters were asked to spend about $88 more a year for the improvements and expenses. Of that, the capital improvements were about $69 – an amount slated to decrease each year after 2023. A roughly $18 a year increase for expenses would have been permanent.

Voters rejected the capital improvements by a vote of 3,202-3,866; the current expense increase was rejected 3,124-3,836.